How a New York street racer became queen of the legendary Ruff Ryders bike team
“It was weird because there were no colored lines,” says Craz. “We were black. There was the Spanish. Jason and Jeremy were white. But they all shared one thing: a symbiotic relationship with adrenaline. The speed gene. They were stuntmen. Wheelie fanatics who turned death wishes into MPH. People for whom the bike was an extension of themselves, and of all the ways it could be twisted.
Even among a crew like that, everyone remembers Yayi as fearless.
“We would slow down waiting for her, thinking she was going to get hurt,” Musk says. “And she speeds past us, going 100 miles an hour on the highway. We were like, ‘Yo, this girl really knows how to ride!’ Everyone feels bad, but Yayi surpasses all of us.
Then, early in the morning of March 10e, 1994, her husband, Supreme, a member of the 84th Precinct basketball team as an auxiliary cop, was shot and killed outside a club in Brooklyn. Newspapers reported accusations of his involvement in a drug robbery ring and the murder of an armored car guard. But Yayi does not mention it. “He ran a construction company,” she says. “He taught me everything I know about fixing a house.”
“After I killed my first husband, everything fell apart.” She rolled in her grief. In spring and summer and until the onset of autumn darkness, she rode. In rain, snow or sleet, it rolled. Every time she was on her bike, it was time away from home, alone, thinking. It was winter when she convinced Wink to teach her how to do a wheelie. He set an early morning meeting time at Pier 4 in Brooklyn, a wide concrete lot that juts out into the East River with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
“I wanted to learn how to ride and how to do tricks so badly, that I would do it in any condition,” Yayi recalls. “Fuck, if it’s a degree, I’ll still go.”
With cracked bones and snot dripping into frozen icicles, Yayi circled the Yamaha around the field, trying to lift it into the air.
“When you step on the gas,” Wink explained. “You can’t let go.”
But she couldn’t keep her grip. His fingers curled into icy claws.
For two fill-ups, he drove it around in circles. “Again and again!” he bellowed like a trainer lathering his boxers, the Miyagi to his Danielson. Pushing her to see where her breaking point was, to see if she had one.
Chapped lips, tears dried on her cheeks, she went for hours, lifting her body in the air until finally, in one sharp motion, she pulled the wheel back so hard that the machine rears up. She felt her ponytail swing behind her, a pendulum marking her transition into a real rider.
“Once I had that,” she says, “no one could take that away from me.”